Hi! I’m Thomasyna Anetra Lynnelle Tollefson! But you can call me Thomi. Please don’t ever call me Tami or Tami Lynn! Never want to hear those nicknames again–thanks to Charley Ascott! I’m 23, just barely 5’2″, with emerald eyes, and ebony hair. And I look exactly like my sisters, Rikki, Halleigh and Lyndsay. But Lyndsay insisted on growing four or five inches taller than us. She’s a year younger than we are, and I’m four minutes older than Rikki, who’s about three minutes older than Halleigh. Yeah, we brought some joy to our parents, and to the circus for which my parents were working at the time. But when my mom got pregnant with Timmy, Dad decided to leave, and start his own business. DreamWind Equestrian Center.
They’re a fabulous team, my mom and dad. When Keath Lindell doesn’t poke his face between them . . . He still loves my mother, and he’s helped her get her writing career going. Dad’s not Keath’s biggest fan, let me tell you! Keath’s a noted actor/director. He took me away from DreamWind and got me started in my own career. He’s been great to me, and I briefly dated his younger brother, Simon–also an actor. . . . . wish I still was.
But-I let myself fall for another actor, Charles W. Ascott IV, stupidly, but blythely, kissed Simon so long–and my life’s taken a big nosedive for that piece of stupidity! Can’t believe I let my guard down to the ground with him! I scraped that jerk off the driveway when he was so drunk he couldn’t tell me where he was, or who he was. . . . I let him flop on my living room floor and sleep off his excesses. My Chow made sure he didn’t roam the house, though. Ming’s my best chaperone! If my father ever knew this–or if my brothers did–I’d be toast! And if any of my family knew how much money I’d given him–well, I’d be burn toast! Ashes!
My sisters are different. I can trust them with any confidence–although I keep to myself what I do behind my dad’s back when it comes to breeding his horses . . . He and I don’t always see things the same way. Sometimes I just have to wake him up a little . . . He’s cool, though . . . .when he’s not angry with me. That’s never fun. He’s a huge guy and can get pretty riled sometimes. Still, I know he’s pretty worried about me–and that it has something to do with my mom. Course, no one will tell me what . . .
Anyway, Dad never liked Charley, and he’ll probably throw parties when he finds that Charley’s gone. (Not as many as I am!) Dad’s hoping I prove I have a brain in my head this time. Well, he doesn’t need to worry. Guys! All they want is a chance to add the famous Thomasyna Tollefson to their Conquest List. Not planning to be Dr. Stephan G. Deverill’s prize! Just because he pulled me to safety on the cliffs behind my own place, Cliff Top Manor, doesn’t mean I owe him anything! Not even a dinner–and definitely not marriage!! Halleigh wants him. so does Rikki. Why can’t he choose one of them and leave me alone?
Actually, he’s kissed Halliegh more often than he’s kissed me! ‘Course . . . I haven’t let him . . . often.
Besides, I’ve promised little Jaimee Kelmann that nothing will keep me out of the benefit play this summer. She’s got heart trouble, and her parents have a tough time dealing with her medical bills plus taking care of her and her three sisters. She’s sure the whole world will come see this play since I’ll be in it, and her parents’ financial troubles will be all over! I know they think I’ve already done enough for them, but I can’t let Jaimee down. Doesn’t matter what’s happening with me at the time. I made that sweet kid a BIG TIME promise, and nothing’s gonna make me break it! NOTHING!!!
Hello! My name is Stephan Greggory Deverill. I’d appreciate you pronouncing my name as if it were spelled S-t-e-v-e-n. I’m 33 years old–heading for 34, about 6’2″ with curly red gold hair, eyes like the sky on a brilliant summer day, (or so it’s been said!). My most powerful asset is my remarkably hypnotic voice. It’s been noted on occasion that I could probably charm the fangs off a cobra if I put my mind to it. It wasn’t, however, mentioned as a compliment. Luckily, it takes quite a bit to ruffle my good nature!
That same good nature’s made me bow to my father’s every wish and whim. He’s not easy to reason with. But my hope is that maybe one day, he’ll appreciate my efforts to please him . . . Efforts that included nabbing my father’s “most devoted” employee in the act of defrauding our sailboat company, In that endeavor, I had the help of our company’s lawyer, Aveleen Hallwell—who eventually became my fifth fiance. Was my father’s belief we’d make a fabulous couple—off the job as well as on . . .
Well, as it happened, my maternal grandfather, affectionately referred to by most of us as Papa Ascott, had paid my way through Cornell when I was younger–much against my parents’ wishes. Didn’t matter to them that earning my degree as a D.V.M. was my real goal and dream. Or that I excelled in this field, graduating at the top of my class. Somehow I have to make them see that nothing makes me happier than to be working with animals-and children. To heal a sick or wounded pet, and receive its’ owner’s smile of thanks-especially from a child or an elderly person-is a divine reward to me!
Sadly, Papa died some months ago, Can’t begin to describe to you, everyone’s shocked amazement when we learned he’d drastically altered his will!! Quite a bit more to my favor, by the way, but I can’t thank him for it! His desire to punish one of my favorite cousins for her “sin” seems severe. Storm was Papa’s own favorite until she broke from her traces and divorced Dean Van Kirk. The man’s dangerously jealous. She has my blessing for her actions–in fact, I helped arrange for her to get away from him in the first place! That being the case, how could I ever expect her to reconcile with him, even to save our inheritance from going to Papa’s wolves? Goes without saying, I’ll do whatever I have to to protect her.
Only-with Charley’s sabotage of my engagement to Aveleen-I need a new plan. Doesn’t matter who I marry in order to fulfill the terms of Papa’s will-frankly, it just needs to be someone who won’t fall prey to Charley’s lies. Thomasyna Tollefson fell for them once, I can’t believe she’d fall for them again. She’ll fit into my purpose perfectly. I can be happy with anyone-I’m easy to get along with . . . most of the time.
400 million dollars, plus estates, ought to thrill Thomi speechless, don’t you think? In any event, it’s better for Thomi to be with me, than for Stormi to be handed back to a devil like Dean Van Kirk!
Yawn! . . . . . . Stre-e-e-e-tch . . . .Stop right there . . . ! I am The Emperor Chou Ming Yen. I am a registered Chow Chow of the teddy bear type, and I am the judge of who should stand near my mistress, Thomasyna and her sisters. My soft fluffy fur is jet black like their hair. My brown eyes turn red when I’m displeased, so you better be backing off when you notice that!
You’d be surprised how many of the girls’ former beaux never got the hint. Sigh . . . it’s a tough job keeping three, and sometimes four, young women safe from harm. But–fortunately for them–I can do it! Looks like my job will shortly get tougher, too. A couple of new young females have started working at DreamWind. I smell danger there! Things could get wilder than when Charley Ascott was sniffing around Thomasyna
I make sure I get to go everywhere with her. Unless I’m needed to protect one of the others. Sometimes I need to be a whole litter in order to protect all of them! Sometimes they try to sneak away without me. I am not happy when they try to trick me into staying home. Let me assure you, if there’s an escape route, I will find it!! Find them too! They’re always amazed when I do–and sometimes absolutely thrilled that I have!